| Jan 1, 2007-Mar 5 --|
W ow!! Here it is 2007 already. We have left the warm weather of the Port Richey area and traveled north to Ocala, and then to White Springs again. Had to take our microwave/convection oven to be repaired, so we might be here a week or two. The weather here is okay for January, but a little colder than the Tampa area. Our two week stay has become a month and a half. We have sent our camcorder to New Jersey for repair (might as well get everything done at once) and we must now wait for it to be returned. We are lucky to have met some wonderful people during our stay here. Dorothy & Paul, Donna & Rick, & Kenny. Paul and George became good friends.
We left Kelly's RV Park on February 20, stopping in Tallahassee at Camping World for a Sleep Number mattress; stopped in Robertsdale, Alabama for a week to wait for our mailand to revisit Gulf Shores, AL. We had been there after the hurricane in 2004 and I was eager to see what changes had taken place. the area is almost completely restored, but the houses are very different from the ones that were destroyed. They are much bigger, which gives them the look of being closer together. I'm not sure it is an improvement.
From there we traveled to Louisiana and ended up in St Bernard State Park - just outside of New Orleans. George's nephew Bobby was living in a house in St Bernard Parrish at the time of Katrina. He was able to leave when the levees gave way and headed to the Memphis area to stay with relatives. He is still in Tennessee, so we stopped in New Orleans to check on the house he left behind. It had been leveled and cleared away, so there is only an empty lot now. St Bernard Parrish was one of the hardest hit areas of New Orleans and is still mostly deserted. It's a sad sight to see all of those houses standing empty. Some of the neighborhoods are more populated, but most of the residents are living in FEMA trailers on their front lawns. While here we visited a New Orleans cemetary, the French Quarter, downtown NO, and the Garden District. The streets of the French Quarter, like those of Boston, are very narrow and all one-way, the doors and windows of the houses are covered by shutters, the second-story wrought-iron railings and porches are appealing. New Orleans is an interesting city and definitely worth a visit. We will be leaving here on Monday, March 5. 7nbsp; We plan to spend next week in the Lafayette area.
|Mar 5 - Apr 9--|
We are once again heading west. Our goal for this leg of our trip is to visit Big Bend National Park in Texas. From there we will head to Deming so I can look for a new doctor. The two doctors I had been seeing in Bolingbrook have both left Bolingbrook Family Medicine. I had been thinking of new doctors because of problems with the billing service used by the group, and this seemed like a perfect opportunity. I will look for a new doctor in Deming since we plan to live there one day.
Our tour of Texas starts in Bandera (near San Antonio). Bandera calls itself the "Cowboy Capitol of the World". It's a smal town that has retained it's western look. Our side trips took us to Fredericksburg and Luckenbach, Texas. Luckenbach is a town that consists of 5 or 6 buildings -- two of them are a post office and a dance hall. The town was immortalized by a song recorded by Waylon jennings, called - appropriately enough "Luckenbach, Texas". The post office is a very small building with a saloon in the back that sells gifts and souveniers. There are dances on Saturday nights in the dance hall during which singers and musicians come to sing and play. Rumor has it that Willie Nelsom shows up there from time to time. None of that happened while we were there. However, a tour bus showed up and let loose 25 or 30 people who crowded into the building and took up all available space. I was surprised that there was enough room for everyone. Luckily, there was a back door in the saloon that provided a quick exit.
From Bandera, we headed to Brackettville and spent a few days at Fort Clark Springs. Fort Clark Springs is a former cavalry post that is now a small community in Brackettville. It has one of two spring fed swimming pools in the US. Our trip continued to Stillwell Ranch Store and RV Park - a small RV Park about 7 miles outside of the northern entrance to Big Bend National Park . Big Bend covers a large area of desert and mountains in southwestern Texas. It's the least visited national park and the interior roads are mostly deserted.
For the past two days the weather has been in the high 80's or low 90's. With very low humidity, it has been really nice. Today (Apr 6), as I write this, it is 60° and windy. Just caught the Weathe Channel's forecast for Dallas tomorrow - maybe snow. Sure hope we are far enough south of Dallas to avoid that particular weather forecast.
|Apr 13 - June 15 --|
We are back in Deming, NM at El Rancho Lobo RV Park. I really like this little town and being here makes me want to start development of the land we own. I don't want to stop traveling, just want to get something done on our property. We are here this time to make doctor appointments and get our mail.
Last week, we took a drive along Highway 9 that stretches from Columbus west to Hatchita. Highway 9 runs along the Mexico/New Mexico border. In several areas, because there was private property right on the border, the National Guard stationed there are within 6 feet of this road. In many of the vehicles that were parked on the roadside we could see soldiers with binoculars watching the border.
Well, this stay has become two months long. We are waiting out gasoline prices; hoping the price will be less by the time we leave here. We will leave here on June 13 and go to Bernardo, NM. Bernardo is about 45 miles south of Albuquerque on I-25.
Here we are in Bernardo, NM. The park is okay, but right on the side of the highway so the traffic noise is sometimes a problem. We will only stay here for two days because the electric service is not reliable. We visited the town of Mountainair today. It's a small western town, but the scenery is wonderful! It's in the mountains( I bet you figured that out already) surrounded by hills and canyons. We also visited the Abo Ruins at the Salinas Pueblo Missions National Monument. The ruins are what is left of a church and pueblo. There are two others in this area, but we didn't visit them on this trip. I'm sure we'll be back.
|June 15 - July 2 --|
It took us several hours to drive from Bernardo to Espanola. We started in the deserts of southern New Mexico and ended this trip in the mountains north of Santa Fe. I especially like traveling the interstates through Albuquerque and Santa Fe because all of the bridges and overpasses are painted in really pretty colors and designs. It makes the drive a much more pleasant experience. Northern New Mexico is divided into several Indian reservations, so it seems like there are casinos every couple of miles. All of them appear to be busy. New Mexico has an architectural style all it's own, and I especially like the simplicity, rounded corners, and peaceful look of the adobe buildings. Unfortunately, the new buildings being erected are faux-adobe; stucco on top of wood framing. While in Northern New Mexico, I had to visit Ghost Ranch in Abiquiu, NM. It was at Ghost Ranch where Georgia O'Keefe painted some of my favorite works of art. Also near Farmington is the Bisti Wilderness . This area of New Mexico looks as though it should be located on another planet, but it is worth a visit.
Ater spending several weeks in Espanola and Farmington, we have traveled from northern New Mexico to Utah, and are staying in Moab. This is a cute little tourist town with lots of hotels, tour businesses, etc. And all of it is smack up against some really gorgeous red mountains. I had been to Bryce Canyon National Park and Zion National Park as a child, and, while I thought those parks were pretty, I was not aware that the entire state of Utah is similarly blessed. Moab is surrounded on all sides by tall cliffs and is five miles from Arches National Park. The mountains of Arches National Park are made of sandstone and look hand carved by the wind. Where you expect to see rough edges, there is a smoothness that makes them look sandblasted. It is so hard to describe, and I'm not sure that these pictures do them justice. Anyway, they are spectacular and I heartily recommend visiting this area if you get the chance.
We left Moab on July 2nd in a northerly direction with Yellowstone National Park, Grand Teton NP, and Jackson Hole, Wyoming as our goal.
|July 5 - Aug.5 --|
Here we are in Rexburg, Idaho. Rexburg is about 80 miles from the national parks in Wyoming and will be our stopping point for visiting Grand Teton NP and Yellowstone NP. Our one and only trip to Wyoming took us from Rexburg south to Jackson Hole, WY then north on route 89/191 that connects both national parks. The trip to Jackson Hole took us past farm fields that were brilliant green, and every one for as far as I could see had rows of sprinklers going. More sprinklers than I have ever seen in one place. I thought it looked funny - tried to get a good picture, but most of the sprinklers didn't show up. Sigh ...
We were very surprised to see that the Latter Day Saints have a big presence in Rexburg. There is a branch of Brigham Young University and a new LDS temple is being constructed on a hill outside of town. Holy cow! this temple is huge!! I'm sure it can be seen for miles as it looms over the town like a castle over its kingdom. Please take a look at this link to see pictures of this new addition to town. There is a link on top of the first picture to a webcam of the church. If you go there at night, you'll see that the entire spire lights up. It's amazing!
Idaho SR 22 took us parallel to the Grand Tetons, then crossed over the top and took a nosedive down to Jackson Hole. The town is actually named Jackson, but answers to Jackson Hole because it is in a hole in the mountains - duh!. Jackson is a cute tourist town with architecture reminiscent of the old west. I must warn you if you plan to visit -- everyone in the entire United States is there in the summertime.
After Rexburg, our next stop is Dillon, Montana. At first I thought it would be just a rest stop on the way to Glacier National Park, but it turned out that there was a ghost town down the road from the campground and a beautiful scenic route into the nearby mountains. We ended up staying for two weeks in order to enjoy the peaceful and beautiful surroundings. the ghost town is a preserved rather than restored. It was built in the 1800's when gold was discovered in the area, and people have lived in it as late as the 1950's. The ghost town is in Bannack State Park on State highway 278. At the end of our two week stay, we went north to Garrison, Montana. About 10 miles from Garrison is Deer Lodge, MT. Deer Lodge boasts more museums for a town it's size than I've ever seen. We visited the Prison Museum (a prison that was used into the 1970's and where several movies were filmed), and the Auto Museum next door. The Auto Museum has hundreds of cars - from the early 1900's through the 1970's. If you like cars, I highly recommend this museum. There will be two more stops before we get to Glacier National Park. Our travel days are not long ones. Note: Someone stopped at this rv park last night and said that he smoke was so bad in Glacier National Park that he couldn't see anything. I hope he was exaggerating ... we'll soon see.
|Aug.5 - Sept.7 --|
Wow!! I'm shocked at how much has taken place since I last updated this page. We have traveled from Garrison, Montana to Myrtle Creek, Oregon! This trip has taken us from Glacier National Park where the smoky haze from nearby forest fires was so thick that the mountain views were obscured, to the coast of Oregon. Along the way, I discovered that Howard Hughes' folly, the Spruce Goose, was in a museum in McMinnville, Oregon. This warranted a small side trip to the Evergreen Aviation Museum. This museum was crammed full of all manner of air vehicles from planes to helicopters, commercial and private. Almost all of these aircraft fit under the wing of the Spruce Goose. I had no idea it was so big! Forest fires were everywhere in Montana, and everything was topped by a smoky haze. This smoky haze affected our visit to Glacier National Park, because a lot of the scenery was obscured. But it was still worth a trip, as the Going-to-the-Sun Road is worth the drive. The glaciers are disappearing rapidly, and we actually found more glaciers on Mt Adams in Washington state.
From Glacier Park in Montana, we headed west to Washington and Grand Coulee Dam. The dam is actually a system of the Grand Coulee and eight other smaller dams along the Columbia River that created a reservoir that is 151 miles long. There is a laser show every evening on the side of the dam that told the story of the development of the reservoir. I was really surprised by Washington. I guess in my mind it was all green and tree-covered. Not so -- the eastern side of Washington is high desert. While in Washington, we stopped in the little town of Randle. Randle is halfway between Mt. St. Helens and Mt. Rainier, so we decided to stop and see both places. The day we drove to Mt. Rainier the clouds were covering the top of the mountain peaks. I don't know what we were thinking, but it wasn't any better at the top. It's hard to believe that a mountain can be right in front of your face and you can't see it because of clouds. Oh well, our trip to Mt.St.Helens was better. It left me speechless(if you can believe that) to see that after 27 years, the damage from the volcano eruption is still visible. There is new growth, but not as much as I expected. Interestingly, a lot of the new growth is wildflowers. The other suprising detail is that there is a little activity at Mt.St.Helens (see photo). From one of the overlooks at Mt.St.Helens, you could see a triangle of peaks - Mt.Adams,Wa/Mt.St.Helens, Wa/Mt.Hood, OR.
|Sept. 7 - Oct.2 --|
Our next stop was to be the McMinnville, OR. While trying to decide where to go on our trip south, I discovered that Howard Hughes' wooden plane the"Spruce Goose" was in an aircraft museum in McMinnville, Or. Luckily, our route to the coast took us right through McMinnville. I was really surprised at how big this plane is. It is the centerpiece of the museum and all of the other planes fit nicely under its wings. This is a beautiful drive. The highway runs almost at the edge of the ocean for most of the drive. We pass through Depoe Bay the "whale watching capital of the Oregon coast", through Yachats (pronounced Ya-Hots), to Florence. We stopped here because I want to see theSea Lion Caves. An elevator takes you down 208 feet into a cave where sea lions live. When we got there, the elevator was being repaired, so we had to wait about an hour to get tickets. This gave me an excellent opporunity to shop, since the tickets are sold in the gift shop - smart thinking by someone. When tickets were finally available, the man at the desk told us that all of the sea lions that had been lounging in the cave all morning, had just taken off for deeper waters. Oh well, we went down anyway because they let us go without charge. It was a long walk down an inclined sidewalk that was right on the edge of the cliff. The weather was overcast and the wind was howling and cold. It must have been weather that only sea lions would like. The views of the ocean were beautiful, and I guess we will go back the next time we are in Oregon.
This takes us to today. We are in Myrtle Creek, Oregon, just a little north of Grants Pass. We will be here until Friday, the 14th, at which time we will be heading to northern California. We plan to visit George's brother Allen in Oxnard. We took I-5 all the way from Myrtle Creek to just a little bit north of Bakersfield, California. This is the first time I have been to Northern California and I couldn't believe the amount of farm land we drove through. The state has constructed a large aqueduct that runs south along I-5 from north of Lake Shasta to Southern California and provides water for the entire southern end of the state. It was quite an amazing sight. We stayed for a week in Bakersfield and George's brother Allen and his wife Linda came from Oxnard in their Class C camper and stayed at the rv park with us. It was really nice seeing Allen and meeting his new wife. The town of Bakersfield pays tribute to it's famous residents by naming streets after them as most other towns do. There is a Merle Haggard Dr and a Buck Owens Blvd. and when I went to the Walmart, the sound system was playing "The Streets of Bakersfield" by Buck Owens. This struck me as kind of funny. After a week in Bakersfield, we went south toward Needles.
|Oct.2 - Dec.31 --|
It has been quite a long time since I have added anything to this page. This trip has taken us from Myrtle Creek, Oregon down through Northern California and ended in Mohave Valley, Arizona. We had planned to spend from Oct. to December traveling around the state of Arizona. We were going to see the Meteor Crater, The Petrified Forest, The Grand Canyon. We found an RV park where we thought we would enjoy spending the winter, and put $50 down to hold a site until December 1. But during the second week of October we experienced a small mechanical problem with the car. We didn't feel safe towing it all around when we weren't sure what was wrong, so we had to find the problem and fix it before we started touring the state. By the time we had the car driveable again, we decided to just stay where we were until after the beginning of the year. So, we have been in Mohave Valley, Arizona since Oct. 2. Mohave Valley is across the Colorado River from Laughlin, Nevada, and a couple of miles south of Bullhead City, Arizona. Bullhead City is a town that was obviously built as people settled here. The town runs for several miles along Route 95, with all businesses on this route. We are also about 80 miles south of Las Vegas. We didn't feel like going to Las Vegas, but we drove up to see Hoover Dam. I remembered Hoover Dam as being out in the open, but it is surrounded rather closely by mountains. There is a road being built that will bypass the dam overhead rather than having the main road go across the dam. It will be good from the standpoint of traffic.
Old Route 66 passes by about five miles east of our campground and we drove it from here to Kingman. Old Route 66 winds through nearby mountains, and is narrow and rural in appearance. In 1962, we drove on 66 from Chicago to Los Angeles and neither of us has any recollection of the winding, mountainous condition of the road. But, I guess it was 45 years ago and that is not unexpected. It runs through the middle of a small western town named Oatman that is 15 miles from here, between Mohave Valley and Kingman. Oatman is known for the wild burros that live there and roam the town looking for attention from the tourists. There are carrots for sale and the donkeys wander all over, sometimes up on the sidewalk to stand in the doorways of the stores. They are pretty cute. Went to see London Bridge in Lake Havasu City the other day. We were here about ten years ago, and the area has really grown in that time. The last time we were here, we took a boat tour of Lake Havasu, this time we just drove over the bridge, checked out the lake, and drove through town to see what changes had taken place.
This is the longest we have stayed in one place in the three years that we have been traveling. We will leave here on January 16th and start a slow trip east with the intention of spending some time in Illinois this summer. We need to route our travels through Nebraska and Kansas, since these two states are still blank on our travel map. Here is it the end of 2007. Can you remember when we were in a panic over the year 2000?? Seems like yesterday. Hope eveyone had a Merry Christmas and good fortune in 2008.